In fish, estradiol-17β (E2) regulates various reproductive processes by acting through estrogen receptors (ERs). Here, we cloned three ER subtypes from medaka and examined their developmental expression in the gonads and liver of genetically females and males from embryos to adults. During embryogenesis, marked increases in the expression of ERβ2, but not either ERα or ERβ1, were found in genetically female embryos during sex differentiation. E2 treatment induced marked up-regulation of ERβ2 expression in genetically male embryos. In adult ovaries, ERα levels were high in follicles (granulosa cells) during oocyte growth. In the testis, ERβ1 expression exhibited a distinct peak at 10 days post hatching (dph). In the liver, very high levels of ERβ2 were found in both females and males throughout the sampling period with significantly higher levels in females during 30-50 dph. These findings suggest each action of E2 to be mediated by different types of ERs.
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